On Monday morning 8th May the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need consecrated three building sites in the villages of Bartella, Karamlesh and Baghdeda (Qaraqosh) for the reconstruction of the first 105 houses belonging to internally displaced Christian families. The owners of the houses were each given a small olive tree so that these can grow in their gardens as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. 

By John Newton

AS the Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions – an international Catholic charity dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima is celebrating its 70th anniversary. 

On Monday 8th May in the villages of Bartella, Karamless and Qaraqosh an “Olive Tree Ceremony” will mark the beginning of rebuilding work on the first 100 homes of the Christian refugee families, in a programme sponsored by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Father Andrzej Halemba of ACN, who is an acting chairman of the “Nineveh Reconstruction Committee” has described this moment as a “historic and unrepeatable occasion for the future of Christianity in Iraq”.  

On Tuesday 25th April, in Damascus, Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch finally celebrated the funeral Mass for five Syrian Christians who had been abducted in 2013 by Islamist extremist rebels in the city of Maaloula. Following the Mass, their remains were finally laid to rest in this majority Christian city from which they had originated.   

*Below is a letter written by Cardinal Piacenza, the President of Aid to the Church in Need, that was sent to all the bishops of the Nineveh Plains in Iraq and read out during the Easter celebrations. 

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